10 signatures reached
To: Vancouver City Council
Enforce Ethical Purchasing Now
Everyone deserves the right to a safe and healthy workplace - not just people living here in Vancouver. Yet, people internationally are working in unsafe conditions where their lives and/or safety are at risk, they are not being paid enough to survive on, and abuse runs rampant.
By purchasing goods from these factories, the City of Vancouver then directly supports these unethical working conditions. The Ethical Purchasing Policy adopted by the City of Vancouver in 2005 was intended to support the ethical production of goods. However, the City of Vancouver took a complaint-based approach to this policy, taking such a passive approach to ethical purchasing that there may as well have been no policy at all. At least two companies with egregiously poor conditions have contracts with the City of Vancouver.
Moving forward, Vancouver must take a more pro-active approach to its Ethical Purchasing Policy, truly enforcing it for the first time since its conception. Workers rights abuses must be taken seriously by the City of Vancouver. After all, if the Vancouver City Council does not take a firm stance against workers' rights abuses abroad, then how are workers here meant to feel safe in their rights?
Why is this important?
Workers' rights abuses must be taken seriously by the City Council. With the upcoming municipal election, future City Council members need to be aware that this issue is one that needs to be on their agenda. The longer that the City of Vancouver takes to properly enforce its Ethical Purchasing policy, the longer it fails to support the rights of workers.
For example, in 2021, the Workers Rights Consortium reported that two employees from Palm Apparel and Sewing International had died due to the companies' refusal to pay legally mandated medical benefits. One woman (and her newly born child) died due to lack of access to maternity care. The hospital told her that she would need to pay more than five months' wages for the care she and her child needed, all because Palm Apparel did not bother to pay its employees' healthcare coverage. The City of Vancouver has contracts with both Palm Apparel and Sewing International. However, due to the passive complaints-based approach, the City was not immediately aware of these infractions and therefore could not work with either company to meet the ethical purchasing policy in a timely manner.
The lack of support (and seemingly awareness) for workers' rights internationally is disheartening. People should not have to die to bring attention to these abuses, and yet the City of Vancouver has not acted regardless of these deaths. The City of Vancouver must take a stronger and more pro-active approach to ethical purchasing.